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May 2018

Scabies and Pruritus—A Historical Review

Author Affiliations
  • 1Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina
JAMA Dermatol. 2018;154(5):536. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.0147

The itch is a filthy distemper, infesting the external parts of the body universally, but more particularly the joints, and between the fingers, commonly with pustulous eruptions raised upon the scarf-skin, by almost unavoidable scratching.

Thomas Spooner, A Short Account of the Itch, 17281(p1)

Previously described as “the worst itch” of a patient’s life, a hallmark of scabies infection is severe, persistent, often sleep-disturbing pruritus. Sarcoptes scabiei was officially discovered in 1687 and became known as the “itch mite.” However, references to scabies date back to 482 BC in ancient Egypt.2

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